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January 29, 2009

How To: Install Operation Anchorage for Steam Using Games for Windows Live [Annoying] | Posted at 10:01 PM

It took me around 20 minutes to find any shred of information about how to install Operation Anchorage to my Fallout 3 game on Steam.

Here's how to do it:

So, first you need to download the file from Games for windows LIVE file that is at around 594MB. Once you do that, I found my files at C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR LOG-ON NAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\XLive\DLC\425307d6\00000002\d96e635 e19d298dac6820680085d45c5d36b9130\Content

op-anchorage-data-folder

I just copied those files to X:\Steam\steamapps\common\fallout 3\Data

op-anchorage-steam-folder

When you launch it from Steam, on the first little box that appears, that allows you to play; Choose Data Files, and activate the one called Anchorage.esm in addition to the Fallout3.esm. Then launch the game.

op-anchorage-launcher

Then I started Fallout 3 from Steam. After I loaded the save I wanted to play - I started the LIVE while still being in-game. Half a second after I was connected to LIVE I got the radio signal in-game.

Note: You need to be able to see hidden files and folders to find the files, btw. Open any random folder, like My Documents. Tools -> Folder Options -> View -> Scroll down until you find Show Hidden Files and Folders.

A million thanks to Kaguya for doing all of this for us.

January 28, 2009

Human Resource Management Golden Rule [Kinda] | Posted at 8:00 PM

I was skimming reading an article we had for my Human Resource Management class called The War for Talent. Well, it was a research paper but there was one sentence that really stuck out to me as being incredibly important.

But like it or not, people learn by being put in situations that require skills they don’t have -- a truth poorly served when "Who can do this job best right now?" dominates staffing decisions.

I find that statement to be common sense but it seems like a lot of people either don't realize that or are too busy with corporate politics to think about it.

That is exactly how I came to learn everything I know. I constantly seek new things beyond my skill level to learn. Over winter break I taught myself how to use Microsoft Expression Blend 2 and how to develop Windows Presentation Foundation-based client applications (I bought a book on each subject). I learned how to make a proper object-oriented program and I also wrote my new Intrepid Studios website in C#, a language I just started to use this summer. In the site I use Linq-to-SQL and Dynamic Data, both brand new technologies in ASP.NET. At work, I am developing a room viewing application that will replace our existing static one using PHP and MySQL. I am learning about Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture and PHP all at the same time.

So you see, that is exactly why I think that quote is important. Of course, I can't assume everyone is like me, but if we are going by "talented" individuals as the article is talking about, I think that people will work better on the job when you give them work to do that they may not be familiar with. I don't believe that if you give a marketing person a balance sheet and tell them to audit it that they will be very passionate about working on it, but for the right person giving them something to do within their realm of experience that they aren't familiar with may be just what they need.

January 21, 2009

Getting What I Paid For [Is it so much to ask?] | Posted at 12:56 AM

I'm in college. Do you know why I am in college? Well first, because my parents made me. But second, it's because I want to learn. It's because when I walk down that aisle at graduation, with a fancy paper waiting in a fancy frame for me at the end that says, "You've made it," I want to say that I learned something here.

Continue reading "Getting What I Paid For [Is it so much to ask?]" »

January 16, 2009

Better DataPager in .NET 3.5 [Efficient] | Posted at 7:39 PM

I am working on a custom blog implementation for Intrepid Studios and I am using a ListView to display posts on the front page. It's just a very nice control…

Anyway, paging for a ListView is done by adding a DataPager control to the page and customizing its behavior.

I was interested in seeing how efficient it was, expecting it to properly utilize my LinqDataSource's ability to grab only the actual number of rows needed from my SQL database.

The articles I read on 4GuysFromRolla and other sites mentioned that it does not, but they were referencing an SqlDataSource.

It turns out, the DataPager does use efficient paging with a LinqDataSource and you do not need to put it within a <form runat="server"> tag to use (just use the QueryStringField property!).

How come? From what I understand, the LinqDataSource uses automatic paging to only get a certain number of rows. That's why it is the only DataSource control with an "AutoPage" property.

I am exceedingly happy with this.

January 13, 2009

Lightweight Rich-Text Editor [jQuery] | Posted at 11:49 PM

jQuery Lightweight Rich Text Editor for ASP.NET

Thank you to Batiste Bieler for the original script, jQuery Rich Text Editor Lightweight.

I heavily modified it to support ASP.NET forms (and their funny client IDs) and to work a bit more efficiently. It’s tested with PHP and .NET both. It should work with any kind of form.

Visit the jQuery Rich Text Editor project page for details.


                              
                              
                           

January 10, 2009

How To: Programmatically Add Nodes to the SiteMap For Your .NET Site [Tips & Tricks] | Posted at 6:23 PM

Problem

The Web.sitemap file stores only static URLs, so if you have a page like this:

http://yoursite.com/news.aspx?view=4

Your sitemap breadcrumb will not reflect the fact that you are viewing a an actual news item. If you're like me, you also reflect the breadcrumb in the title of your page. So instead of seeing:

Breadcrumb: Home > News > A headline!
Title: A headline! : News : My Site

You see:

Home > News
News : My Site

Read on for how to solve it.

Continue reading "How To: Programmatically Add Nodes to the SiteMap For Your .NET Site [Tips & Tricks]" »

January 8, 2009

Creating a Wrapper for Firebug's Console [Tips & Tricks] | Posted at 12:20 PM

Thanks to Dimitar over at Frag on how to create a wrapper for Firebug's console, I was able to implement better debugging in my jQuery plugin. The one quip I had was that I needed to directly pass everything to the log function. The way Dimitar did it, it wrote a log line for each argument. I was passing formatted strings.

Here are the offending lines:

for (var i = 0, l = arguments.length; i < l; i++)
	console.log(arguments[i]);

And here's what you replace it with:

console.log.apply(this, arguments);

BAM! Works like a charm.

Thanks Dimitar!

Mini Review: Anathem [Neal Stephenson] | Posted at 12:42 AM

Anathem Book Cover

If you need a synopsis, check it out on the wiki.

What a great book, in its own right. Personally, I don't think it was better than Snow Crash but it was still awesome. I have to be fair and say that Snow Crash is my favorite just because it's so geeky in a computer way which is why I liked it so much. Anathem is geeky in a more typically sci-fi way and it is fantastic by itself, independent of Stephenson's other novels.

I listened to the Audiobook, so the unfamiliar words were a bit easier to grasp. Plus, you can really infer the meaning from the context in which its used and the dictionary entries provide a larger definition. Still, even at the end I was not 100% sure what some words were, but that was because I didn't have the book's glossary to reference.

I make note of this because when I bought the book off Audible, a user had rated it one star. They said that they couldn't understand any of the words and it made no sense. I'm glad I ignored them, I found it really interesting how as you read the book the words exist on their own, like a real language. By the end, you know and understand exactly what Fraas and Suurs are (and similar things).

Like most of Stephenson's books this one contains a lot of theoretical dialog, but in typical Stephenson way he explains through the character's questions. I think that everything was sufficiently explained and even things that were confusing aren't central to understanding what happens. The ending was awesome, it really built up.

Definitely for the nerds... I would hesitate to recommend this to a casual reader, but if space, time, and aliens interest you... well, go for it. It's not a cut and dry approach to sci-fi, Stephenson uses actual (fake?) logic to explain everything and why it works. It's not like there's an "alien" and it looks a certain way just because. There's tons of explanation for everything. Sometimes I got lost, but it will still keep you interested in between the long, drawn out dialogues.

Overall, definitely a good read as long as you make it past the first hour and a half, which you should be used to if you've read Stephenson before. If you like Stephenson, it's a must. If you're new… it may be intimidating, but as long as you enjoy interesting ideas, read it.

Buy it off Amazon or Audible

January 5, 2009

Use CSS to Create a Dynamic Sidebar, with a Fixed Element [Tips & Tricks] | Posted at 11:24 AM

CSS Sidebar Normal

I am working on my new Intrepid Studios website and I came up against a CSS wall. I needed a sidebar that had a "main image" for a design and then list extra images or extra information. However, I wanted it to look cool, so I wanted the image to overlap the header and always appear in the same place.

I needed the design to follow these guidelines:

  • The photo must always appear in the same place no matter the height of the header. Sometimes there is no photo.
  • Sidebar content must always appear below the header.
  • The header has a variable height, so it should push the sidebar content down if it's larger than the photo.
  • I want the sidebar content to come after the body content in the HTML, because it's extra information.

Read on fair reader, to see how I solved my problem

Continue reading "Use CSS to Create a Dynamic Sidebar, with a Fixed Element [Tips & Tricks]" »

Expose for Windows Vista/7 [Clone] | Posted at 9:16 AM

image

I use an iMac at work and whatever you say about Mac, one thing is for sure, Expose is genius. I am almost angry that this functionality isn't in Windows 7. Nobody uses Flip3D. Well, some do but I don't.

Enter Switcher. A free app switcher ala Expose, that works with multiple monitors. I will go through some cool features that will make Switcher look and act like OS X Expose.

Continue reading "Expose for Windows Vista/7 [Clone]" »

January 1, 2009

One Sentence Review: Penny Arcade, Episode 2 [Game] | Posted at 11:13 PM

image

Title: On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode Two
Platform: PC
Review: As much fun as the first, short and sweet, and still hilarious.
Grade: A-

Buy it from Steam

Prince of Persia 4: Why do you do this to me? [A Review, Bittersweet] | Posted at 11:07 PM

Warning: This post will spoil the ending, so don't read it unless you've beaten it (or don't care).

Prince of Persia 4 (2008)

Title: Prince of Persia 4 (2008)
Platform: PC
Grade: B+
Rent or Buy?: Rent
Time Taken: 3 days, maybe 15 hours

First, let me say that I mostly enjoyed my time beating the newest Prince of Persia. There were parts that really ticked me off (camera angles, repetitiveness, etc.) Now let me follow that up with this: it was all going great until the end. The end was… frustrating. It was frustrating because I can see why it had to be done, but why couldn't it have been something that didn't totally undo EVERYTHING I DID IN THE GAME.

I did not want Elika to die. I was in the same boat as the prince… but I also didn't want to free that slow, half-retarded God Ahriman (seriously, he isn't smart enough to punch ahead of where you're going). It was like the whole game was about getting me to like the characters and I really did, then they drop the bomb even though I knew it was going to happen. I kept hoping they wouldn't ruin it, hoping that they would find another way to keep her alive without unleashing the God. THANKS GOD OF LIGHT, lots of good you did!

I wrote this post after talking with some people about it and standing back and thinking about why they did this. It is obvious that they are doing a sequel, otherwise it would have been the happy ending. Is it a testament to their narrative abilities that they pissed me off? Doesn't that mean it was a good story? Maybe. One thing is for sure, they can redeem themselves with the next game. If they leave Elika to die in the next game, then I'm really going to be disappointed. It's like those authors that have these epic trilogies and then at the end, kill a character you were really attached to. I hate it, I don't care if it's supposed to be a "tragedy" or whatever, I like happy endings!

Enough of the story, I don't want to think about it. What of the actual gameplay? I'm sorry to say that it suffered from the same problems Assassin's Creed did. Fun but repetitive. Sometimes it felt like they just put stuff in between things that really didn't need to be there. Like, for example, jumping and whizzing about the Temple at the end. Or that whole "boss fight" with Ahriman. He seemed pretty dumb to me.

Still, I have to say that it couldn't be all bad because I beat it in the span of 3 days. What kept me going? The characters, mostly… waiting for those two to get together, but also the environments were very well done. The fact that you couldn't die also kept me playing, knowing I could do whatever I wanted and suffer no consequences. During fights I really did not enjoy the "push the button quick or else the dude will regenerate half his health!" moments. I was playing on PC, and the icons were in the Xbox 360's colors for ABXY. That didn't translate well and I found myself pressing the wrong buttons all too often. This was mostly alright except that the worst part of the whole game was trying to maneuver The Warrior into those stupid wooden columns. I was almost going to just turn the game off because it took like 15 minutes to try and do it.

Understand that I am not someone who enjoys failing at the same thing 20 times ala Ninja Gaiden, God of War, etc. After 3 times I usually quit. That's just how I am. At the same time, I felt PoP was too easy… which is a paradox, I know. I think it was because of the almost fully automated platform mechanics. Just press the right button and the Prince will do his thing, without your control. Assassin's Creed at least let me do whatever I want, and I felt like it was me who was doing everything. In PoP, it feels like you're telling the Prince what to do and he goes and does it. Don't ask how it should have been, I have no idea. I feel like these complaints are just because of how the gameplay mechanic works and perhaps there's no real solution. My constructive feedback to Ubisoft Montreal is to add better puzzles, or just more of them. I did like how it broke up the monotony to take some time and solve a puzzle.

I also think that you should hold our hands less. We are smart people, us gamers, we don't need to be told what to do every second. Look at Portal. No hand holding there. Even if it used visual indicators, it still left it up to you to figure out how to get there. In this, scratch marks on the walls tell you where to go. Why are there scratch marks there? It is a sad fact that platforming games will never fully explain why everything is there for the player to succeed. How come that platform there is there? What use did it have before I came along? I can't hold it against the game, as I wouldn't hold it against the myriad of previous platforming games.

I've also heard about other reviewers complain about the voice acting and its lack of… ethnicity. This was a "problem" in Assassin's Creed too but if you asked around, the assistant tells you its because the Animus can't translate everything or whatever. Then again, why do the rest of the cast have good voice acting or ethnic voices? Like AC, PoP has Californians do the main characters. The small difference is that I actually liked PoP's voice actors… I actually didn't mind the lack of ethnicity to be honest, it was like Aladdin. I don't think it takes away any from the narrative. I don't know if the humor the Prince used would be lost on some other actor. I, for one, enjoyed the banter back and forth between the Prince and Elika. Maybe it was cheesy, but I thought it better than a lot of games.

Elika: Haven't you heard that good things come to those who wait?
Prince: Good things are good things, why wait?

I really do feel like the actors did a good job portraying their character's personalities. This makes sense for Elika, being voiced by Kari Wahlgren, a great actress that you've probably heard in other games (Soul Calibur IV, Tales of Symphonia, Ninja Gaiden 2, FF12, etc.). Matt Mullins, the guy who does the Prince has a great voice and he actually does put comedic inflection into his acting, which really helped portray the Prince's character well. The two of them go together very well, their voices complement each other.

My final score? I'd give the game a B+. It was good enough to want to beat but frustrating and lacking in some parts that dragged it down.

One Sentence Review: The Blade Itself [Book] | Posted at 12:16 PM

image

Title: The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book I)
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Blurb: A bunch of characters get unwillingly thrown into a situation where no one except a few know what's really going on.
Review: The action scenes are fantastic and the plot is finally not a rehash of some dragon or God or [insert villain] trying to take over the world.
Grade: A

Buy it from Amazon

WEB 1001 and WEB 1002, Introduction to Web Design [Webinars] | Posted at 11:48 AM

I've made available my old seminar reference sites here:

http://intrepidstudios.com/tutorials/WEB%201001/

http://intrepidstudios.com/tutorials/WEB%201002/

I made them awhile back when I gave two seminars to my high school program that I was in, the Lighthouse Program. It was for gifted and talented students, so the material was geared toward a younger audience which is apparent in the slides. You won't find much high-level web design thoughts, but it is a good primer on getting into web design if you're interested.